By: Xochitl Mora, City of Laredo
Today, the City of Laredo broke ground on the Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course, a new Robert Trent Jones II designed golf course, so that paradise is going to start looking a lot like heaven to a lot of golfers in Laredo, throughout Texas, the United States and even, Mexico.
Robert Trent Jones, II, (RTJ II) one of the leading golf course design firms in the world, won the selection competition to design the new course for the City of Laredo finishing atop the list of 30 design/build teams that responded to the initial request for qualifications.
Based in Palo Alto, California, the firm has designed or remodeled more than 250 golf courses worldwide over the last four decades. RTJ II courses are routinely recognized for their imagination, strategic interest and site suitability.
Crafted on 270 acres of land perched above the Rio Grande, the core golf layout will celebrate the rugged beauty of the South Texas landscape, highlighting not only the tremendous views of the Rio Grande, but also, incorporating the two substantial arroyos that extend into the property.
The unique configuration of the Jones design will provide maximum flexibility in course utilization and set-up, presenting a course equal in challenge, enjoyment, beauty and just as importantly, affordability.
With Landscapes Unlimited, one of the world’s leading golf construction firms, at the helm to build the course, the City of Laredo’s first municipal golf course will be a one-of-a-kind facility in the country.
The golf course will be operated by Foresight Golf.
“This golf course will be the catalyst for business development and investment in our community,” said City of Laredo Mayor Raul G. Salinas.
“Not only from the jobs this project will create locally, but also, the type of companies that will want to come to Laredo because of the quality of this golf course.”
According to leaders, the idea of a municipal golf course was always a project that was on the horizon, but lack of financing and other priority projects always pushed the project to the backburner.
When the Mandel family first approached the City of Laredo with the idea of a partnership to develop the project into a reality, officials researched the possible positive financial impact the golf course would have to not only current and future Laredoans, including the economy in terms of jobs created.
They realized the golf course was now a priority project.
This project is made possible by the generous land donation of 390 acres by the family of the late Max A. Mandel, who, along with the property, also donated $1 million to the City of Laredo for construction, as well as water rights for irrigation purposes.
Mr. Mandel was a longtime Laredo banker who looked for ways to use the resources of then-The Laredo National Bank, where he served for 40 years in various capacities, including President, CEO and Chairman of the Board, to build a stronger economic foundation for Laredo, including financing several of Laredo’s key infrastructure projects, such as Laredo’s International Bridges I and II, and many other projects, including purchasing bonds both Laredo school districts.
Before his passing, he was also a great leader and supporter of Los Dos Laredos; his wife, Roslyn Alexander Mandel, and their children continue that legacy with the largest donation ever to the City of Laredo.
“Max was a wonderful person who had a deep love affair with Los Dos Laredos, Mexico, the Rio Grande and all of the wonderful culture and people of Los Dos Laredos,” said Gary G. Jacobs, married to Jessie Mandel Jacobs, and a principal partner in this project.
“Max was a visionary who could see Laredo and Nuevo Laredo only getting strong and better over time. When Tom Herring came to Max with a vision to build the Border’s first 4-star hotel, he was 100% supportive.
When the maquila industry legislation was first passed in the 60’s, Max was first on board for Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.
“When he passed away, Roslyn and the family wanted to do something for all Laredoans that would be a fitting tribute to Max. He loved the farm we call ‘Las Islitas’ and we thought this would a project of which he would be proud of and happy for his beloved Laredo.
We are pleased that eh Laredo City Council accepted the gift and is building a world class golf course on the river, rather than walls and fences. Max is smiling,” concluded Jacobs.
City leaders hope to develop a course that will attract not only locals to want to come and learn the game in an informal atmosphere, but also, from golf enthusiasts who look for a challenging, charming and aesthetically pleasing course.
The total cost of the project will be $6.6 million; including $5.6 million in Certificate of Obligation bonds, plus the generous donation of land, water and cash, which will help cover the cost of design and construction.
“Involvement in the creation of successful public golf ventures holds special significance within our organization,” said Mark Voss, Senior Project Architect at RTJ II.
It is not every day that a project like this comes along. We initially identified this project five years ago as a meaningful opportunity for increasing access to high quality golf in this region, both nationally and internationally.
This property is truly amazing and it is a privilege to assist the City of Laredo in creating a golf experience that we believe will be a source of great pride for the residents of Laredo,” Voss concluded.
Roger Creery, Executive Director of the Laredo Development Foundation, agrees.
“I believe this is a landmark project for Laredo. It touches several aspects of our community from recreation and leisure, job creation, and, adding an additional quality of life component that many outside business prospects look for when deciding where they want to bring their companies.
I applaud the Mandel Family and thank them for their generous donation and continued commitment to our community. I also thank the leadership of Laredo for helping turn this concept into reality,” he added.
Of course, before the historic groundbreaking event took place, local golfers, golf pros, golf coaches and students, and the public in general were able to meet with the designer and others involved in the golf course construction so that they could give input about the features they would like to see incorporated into their municipal golf course.